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Report: Microsoft might make Windows Phone, Windows RT free

Microsoft(s msft) might be going after Google(s goog) in a big way. According to The Verge, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans say that the company’s OS VP Terry Myerson is considering a move to make Windows Phone and Windows RT free.

This shift would be a pretty direct shot against Google, which offers its Android OS for free. Microsoft currently licenses the software to device makers, although Nokia’s(s nok) Windows Phone devices make up over 80 percent of the market share for Windows Phone. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile hardware division will remove this chunk of licensing revenue.

By offering its platforms for free, Microsoft would likely get more manufacturers interested in using the software, which in turn could attract more developer interest. And by getting more Windows-powered devices out there, it could help slow the growth of Android.

To recoup money lost on licensing fees, Microsoft would attempt to gain revenue elsewhere. The Verge suggests that ads in Windows 8 apps and Microsoft’s built-in Bing search help offset whatever is lost.

Of course, Microsoft still makes plenty of money by licensing Windows 8, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. It also makes a great deal of money on Android device royalties, to the tune of a reported $2 billion per year.

4 Responses to “Report: Microsoft might make Windows Phone, Windows RT free”

  1. Arvind Punj

    Microsoft has a complex operating system but the Windows camp may be able to achieve some simplicity with the revamped Windows 8 phone OS whose specs no body has seen it could mean if Windows 8 phone OS is a better set of code which is possible that people will slowly recognize that and Google may face a stiff competition by its own community who is very smart in weighing the OS strength. The other side of the story could be the Windows 8 phone OS may not prove to be better than Android and Microsoft will loose some community Android has more things to loose than Microsoft at this point. It is fair play by Microsoft.


  2. I just can’t see it happening. Firstly, MicroSoft won’t be able to give their OS away for free, since they also have to pay royalties on patents. These patent wars are getting boring, but I suppose they are here to stay.

    Secondly, Microsoft will have to change their whole business model in order to give their OS away for free. “Microsoft would attempt to gain revenue elsewhere”, where? MS have got shareholders, management got sales targets, if there is an area where they can squeeze a couple of dollars they would have done so already.

    So yeah, just can’t see that one happening, will be interesting but also dangerous. What signals will it send in the market if they do manage to give their OS away for free, and no one wants it?

  3. John Gibson

    That would be interesting as it would likely mean it costs more for manufacturers to use Android (with the fees to cover patents) than it would to use Windows Phone 8.

    • Kevin Lee

      If the Microsoft toll on Android devices is not significant (for example,
      if it’s $20 per device or less), offering Win Phone or Win RT for free is
      likely not going to make a difference.

      The toll may even be reduced or eliminated depending on what’s
      going on in the EU. If the EU throws out the toll, Microsoft may
      even have to drop the price of x86 Windows licensing.

      If any move is likely to make things better for Microsoft, it would
      be reducing x86 Windows licensing fees. However, even this
      step might not change things much as the public is used to lightweight
      apps in mobile, vs heavyweight programs of the kind Windows offers.